"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself," John Dewey. I have identified myself as a life-long learner starting at the age of six till to date. I am continuously looking for new opportunities to further my education. During the last forty years, I have seen technology change. By deciding to work to words earning a doctorate, I knew it would be the biggest challenge of my life. Majority of my education has been through online learning and hence my curiosity of online learning and its evolution over the years. I have experienced online learning in multiple angles ranging from being a student and designing an online course to teaching an online course.
Technology is changing our world every day, and I realized that I want to be a part of this changing society. The last time that I sat in a traditional classroom setting was when I earned my Associate of Applied Science in Accounting spent the first half of my life in a classroom that incorporated the typical lecture, where you take notes, answer questions at the back of a chapter in a textbook, and then take a test. That was my education in a very traditional approach.
As I completed my second Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems-PC Help Desk, the century was coming to an end, and the world had begun to panic about technology. As we started a new century, computers did not shut down the world; I, therefore, knew that it was time for me to make a change in my life. My first challenge involved changing my career from banking to education. I started as an Educational Aide in a computer laboratory in an elementary school teaching K-3 students about keyboarding. During this time, I knew the next step would be to become a teacher. For me to further my career, I needed to go back to school to earn a Bachelor's degree in Information System Technology. After obtaining the degree, I have progressed from being an Educational Aide to a Director of Career and Technical Education. I have spent a significant amount of time in diverse capacities on education. Nonetheless, these capacities have been all related to technology.
After completion of my Masters of Education in Educational Technology Leadership, I considered it essential to work with teachers how to integrate technology in the classroom. This move led to the formulation of my goals. By continuing my education, I discovered my passion, new challenges, and new goals. During this process, I was teaching teachers and students, but that something was missing; I needed to do something more to make a difference. Starting my doctorate, that was entirely online, helped me establish that I needed to do more. Education was moving towards advancement in technology which involved blended, flipped, and online learning.
It might never be possible to measure the costs of student performance and motivation. This difficulty is because school districts continue to deliver education in a traditional manner that uses the same approach for every student. Nonetheless, experience shows that learners do better when teaching considers their strengths and incorporates their individual needs and preferences.
Section 1. Goals
Technology is all around us and how we decide to use it is different for everyone. Being an educator and working with students, I have daily opportunities to make a difference. By furthering my career, I would like to develop and implement online courses for students in grades 9 to grade 12. Effective online instruction depends on learning experiences designed and facilitated by knowledgeable educators (Gayton &McEwen). By implementing these types of courses, students will have the opportunity to select their preferred learning needs. If today's technologies have the potential to improve teaching and learning, the question about how technology is being used in an educational environment arises.
By incorporating technology in an education setting, educators need to be prepared for the use of technology in their classroom to meet the needs of students. Currently, I can guide teachers in preparing for the demanding changes in technology and online learning. My goals include:
Developing and implementing online courses for Huffman Independent School District that provide a variety of different online options for students to choose from.
Creating a complete online graduation plan for students at Huffman Independent School District.
Preparing educators for the use of technology in their classrooms to meet the needs of students; including opportunities to expand their course online.
Section 2. Description of Primary Focus Area
My primary focus is on creating a rich-safe online learning environment for high school students. Having learned something new on a daily, young people naturally gather a wealth of expertise. They are the ones who best understand their specific learning requirements. If students can find a wealth of useful information on the internet and accomplish much by using digital tools, then technology should play an enabling and not leading role. I believe that technology in the classroom can help students to understand what they are learning easily.
By developing and implementing online courses for Huffman Independent School District that provides a variety of different online options for students, I believe that I have started this process. However, we have not reached a level that is to be considered successful for the district or students. Once students' voices are heard and considered, school districts can offer different choices in their education.
An essential goal that I am aiming to accomplish is to create a complete online graduation plan for students at Huffman Independent School District. By giving students a voice and a choice in a purposeful manner necessitate a cultural shift in how school districts operate and in the way educators, administrators, parents and students think about learning. I know there is a change in learning and students are faced with different challenges in their lives. The problems affect how they get their education. Even though we are small school districts, there is need to provide those opportunities and to change the mindset that we will not face the same problems and circumstances that large school districts and cities are dealing with an on a daily basis.
There is so much potential in the teachers that I work with. Therefore, I take it personal to prepare educators for the use of technology in classrooms to meet the needs of students including the opportunities to develop their course online. I think that building relationships with both teachers and the students is the first step in winning them over to undertake something new. I usually take time in getting to know what the teachers comfort zones are in learning new strategies. Consequently, this enables me to offer individualized training for the teachers as well as the group, campus, and the district. As an educator, I know students learn differently, and that applies to the teachers as well. When teachers, administrators, and students are on the same page about the acceptable uses that are not limiting, technology can allow students to take charge of their education.
As I am getting closer to completing my doctorate program, I understand that I will have to make choices that will affect my future and my family's life. I believe that the school district has paved the way for the next chapter of my life. The reason for such belief is because I have worked in the district and they have supported me since the day I began in a computer laboratory eighteen years ago. I take it as gratitude to take the district into the next phase of technology. It has been motivating for me to do more after reviewing the changes and programs that have been implemented in the district and knowing that I contributed to these changes. From being the first technology mentor teacher to developing the first online class, I feel that this is a place that I can continue to make a difference.
I can affirm that I gained a vast knowledge in online learning. Within my dossier, you will see multiple examples of documentation involving evidence of my work. Students have different learning styles, backgrounds, and levels of preparedness. Additionally, a significant number of students are attracted to the convenience and flexibility of scheduling (Murping, Nora &Yaw).
One area that I am confident in is that I need to continue working on online teaching. I started teaching my first online class this past August on Global Business to twelve grade students. My primary challenge is that the majority of the students have never taken an online course before. Therefore, they have first to learn how to take an online course and how to master its content. Online learning can turn out to be challenging when students need to concurrently learn both the course content and how to learn online (Lowes & Kin, 2015)
I believe that there is a need to incorporate more interaction with students by providing opportunities of online forums through a form of video chat. Since the majority of the students are new to this learning along with the time management needed, it will be vital for them to take advantage of the live video chats with me and their classmates. An improvement in this area can help me determine if the students are understanding the content that they are learning.
By surveying the students, by the end of the year, I hope that the data they will provide will hopefully provide recommendations on improving the courses. I believe there is value in input from students, and this will help them to understand the information that I present to them. The use of technology in education has eradicated educational boundaries, both students and teachers can collaborate in real time using advanced instructional technologies. This is my biggest challenge and is essential for me to make sure that I can help in the process in my school district.
Section 3. Breadth and Integration
The successful use of instructional technology should focus on various factors. The success may involve the creation of a community of inquiry that supports individuals, construction of meaning and collaboration in testing understanding through discourse. The purpose of this framework is to provide guidelines for the use of instructional technology by creating and sustaining deep and meaningful learning through reflection and dialogue in online and blended learning environments.
The successful implementation of instructional technology requires collaborative effort and cooperation among leaders at various levels of an organization. Katheryn Sullivan (2008) argues that we have to change the way we approach teaching and learning through generative leadership that allows leaders and students to build solutions in a safe, rich, and an active environments. The problem is that, even after "the world-shaping impact of computer technologies, many schools are stuck using an education model based on factories and armies of the 19th century...but's not a receipt for an effective learning environment" (Sullivan 2008, Out of Factory Model section, Section 1).
The opportunity to work with students, teachers, and administrators in implementing new technologies has continued in preparing me for the multiple changes that are taking place in education. Not only do I train teachers but I am also involved in the planning process for the district. I work closely with the director of technology and instructional technology coordinator in creating a technology plan for the district.
Today's students are often better prepared than their teachers in using the new technology. The cognitive theory of constructivism promotes student-centered learning using self-discovery, exploration, and a...
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